Raspberry Pi at Thurrock Acorns

On Tuesday the 15th of September 2015, members of the Thurrock Acorns gathered for their monthly club meeting. Speaker for the evening was Peter Onion, talking on the subject of the increasingly popular Raspberry Pi.

Press to start Peter's Pi presentation at TAARC (Pic: Ricky M6DII)
Press to start Peter’s Pi presentation at TAARC (Pic: Ricky M6DII)

Peter started with an outline of why the Raspberry Pi was created, very much with the aim of a low-cost schools computer in mind. The Pi launched on 29 February 2012 with over 100,000 orders on the first day, mostly from early adopters. Originally, the Pis were manufactured in the Far East, but now they’re mostly made in South Wales by Sony.

Raspberry Pi II board
The Raspberry Pi 2 board

Want to buy a Raspberry Pi? The latest model, the Pi 2 is six times more powerful than the original. They’re available for next-day delivery from Amazon. Raspberry Pi 2 Quad core at Amazon


After the basic introduction to the concept behind the Pi, Peter then ran through the specs of the various models, the hardware, and an overview of what you need to get started.

Showing the various models of the Pi since launch
Showing the various models of the Pi since launch


The talk moved on to the subject of programming (using Scratch and Genie), and the GPIO pinouts that allow connection to the outside world (sound, displays, motors, etc). Peter also brought along a number of Pi accessories, including cases and peripherals. The Pi has no onboard clock (as shipping devices with CMOS batteries is problematic), so Peter showed a separate real-time clock module, as well as a camera. Peter also showed off one of the new 7″ screens released in the last few weeks, allowing the Pi to become a stand-alone computer & screen. Also demonstrated, an impressive demo using an array of LEDs running software called ‘Life’, simulating how cells grow and die.

Peter G0DZB demonstrating Life at TAARC
Peter G0DZB demonstrating Life at TAARC
Peter G0DZB with the new Raspberry Pi screen
Peter G0DZB with the new Raspberry Pi screen (Pic: Ricky M6DII)

When asking for questions, Peter expanded on his use of the Pi in amateur radio – He uses an Elecraft KX3 panadapter to monitor HF, and control the SDR from a Pi. He also spoke about the various platforms for the Pi (with Raspbian getting his recommendation). Peter also debunked the myth that the Pi can run Windows 10.

Thurrock Acorns Sept 2015 Meeting
Thurrock Acorns Sept 2015 Meeting (Pic: Ricky M6DII)


Hopefully the talk inspired many in the audience to get a Pi and get started either with some existing software, or to get coding and playing with hardware interfaces.

Peter’s given versions of this talk to the Chelmsford, Colchester and Harwich clubs in recent months, attends various Raspberry Jam events in the area (Cambridge, Southend and Ipswich), and will be appearing at the September Skills Night with some more Pi demonstrations.

The next meeting for the Thurrock Acorns (20 October)  features a talk on Moonbounce by John G4SWX

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